Writing with a mentor text is an ideal practice when writer’s block threatens, in between larger projects, or as a short daily exercise to keep your ear in tune and your hand moving. This collection of children’s books features haiku. The poems can become the basis for a tanka or simply a catalyst for other creative work. Here are three to get you started.
1. Today and Today, by Kobayashi Issa, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
A quiet book filled with mixed media collage and simple watercolor illustrations brings a mythical quality to Issa’s very grounded haiku.
2. Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho, by Dawnine Spivak, illustrated by Demi
A richly illustrated biography of the 17th century poet that includes a haiku on each spread.
3. Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
A witty book that shows how narrative can be woven into a series of linked haiku.
Tweetspeak also has a delightful collection of Haiku Master puppets! The pdfs include even more haiku waiting for the tanka turn. Consider brewing a pot of tea or making cupcakes to enjoy as you cut and color the puppets.
But what exactly does any of this have to do with writing? Are the puppets and children’s books childish ways to put off approaching the blank page? Opening ourselves to whimsy, noticing and recording is actually the true and proper work of the poet. Children’s books (and cupcakes!) can open the door to wonder and inspiration.
Which of the three books do you think might create a spark? Head to the library, and let us know in the comments which book you chose. Use these lengthening days to generate new writing.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s a poem we enjoyed from Rick Maxson that expertly uses line breaks to build tension and create movement in just a few compact lines.
outside, a fine rain,
the air still with mourning
doves cooing, and I
recalling the distant train
that brought me here long ago.